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Apple co-op settles sex and race harassment complaints

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,People Management

The farmers’ co-op that produces Musselman’s applesauce has settled an EEOC sexual and racial harassment complaint filed by eight Mexican-American women who worked at a factory in Gardners.

According to the complaint, the eight female Knouse Foods employees suffered sexual harassment and intimidation at the hands of male employees. They say the men chased them with forklifts, blocked their passage with brooms and verbally harassed them with lewd and sexually explicit remarks. The men also allegedly made disparaging comments about the women’s ethnicity.

Knouse Foods has agreed to pay $300,000 to the women and conduct employee training on sexual harassment. The company admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to a three-year consent decree under which it must make periodic reports to the EEOC concerning any sexual harassment or ethnic intimidation complaints.

Final note: Now’s the time to start conducting spot checks to look for harassment, ethnic or racial intimidation, harassment and other ugly problems. When you work in a professional office environment, it’s too easy to think that everything is fine down on the factory floor or in the warehouse. A surprise visit may reveal things like graffiti, inappropriate postings and the like.

At the very least, spot inspections will discourage horseplay as well as more serious harassment and intimidation.

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